Feel like you may be forgetting something important? You aren’t imagining it. Remembering everyday things is getting harder and harder. Once you become aware of it, memory loss seems to progress quickly. It becomes more debilitating the more aware of it you become. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t just a normal part of aging. There’s always an underlying reason for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Disregarded hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing impacting your memory? By identifying the cause of your memory loss, you can take measures to slow its development substantially and, in many instances, bring back your memory.
Here are a few facts to consider.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
They’re not unrelated. In fact, researchers have found that people with neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other severe cognitive problems.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. Listening to things takes extra effort. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your brain needs to work to process.
You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. When attempting to listen, you eliminate the unlikely choices to figure out what someone probably said.
This puts lots of additional stress on the brain. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be really stressful. The outcome of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
Stress has a significant effect on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re experiencing stress.
And something new starts to take place as hearing loss worsens.
You can begin to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and straining to hear. If you’re always thinking that you’re getting old, it can come to be a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’ve all heard the trope of someone who’s so lonely that they start to lose touch with reality. We humans are social creatures. Even introverts struggle when they’re never around other people.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s harder to talk on the phone. You need to have people repeat themselves at social gatherings making them much less enjoyable. Family and friends start to exclude you from discussions. Even when you’re in a setting with a lot of people, you may zone out and feel secluded. The radio may not even be there to keep you company after a while.
Being on your own just seems simpler. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them anymore.
This regular lack of mental stimulation makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when somebody starts to physically or mentally isolate themselves. Regions of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. They quit functioning.
There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the various parts of the brain. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all related to hearing.
This loss of function in one area of the brain can slowly spread to other brain functions like hearing. Memory loss is linked to this process.
It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when a person is bedridden for a long time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They could quit working entirely. They may have to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s hard to reverse the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans reveal this shrinkage.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
You’re most likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It may be barely noticeable. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is neglected.
Studies have revealed that individuals that have hearing loss who regularly wear their hearing aid have the same risk of developing memory loss as someone of the same age with healthy hearing. People who began using hearing aids after symptoms began were able to slow the progression considerably.
As you get older, try to remain connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to understand that it’s closely linked to hearing loss. Don’t disregard your hearing health. Get your hearing evaluated. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.